You might already know the story of the E30 BMW M3—a combination of alphanumerics that means little to non-enthusiasts, but everything to the right sort of Bimmer nut. The M3, of course, is the first time that BMW Motorsport GmbH worked its full magic on the company’s 3 Series line. The E30 M3 was a real homologation special—back when that actually meant something. If BMW wanted to race the 3 Series in FIA Group A events, the company had to build 5,000 road-going versions to prove the race car was truly based on a production vehicle—and it had to sell the cars within a year.
How special was the E30 M3? All it carried over from the normal E30 3 Series were the standard car’s doors and roof. Everything else was fiddled with, lightened, widened, or souped-up. While BMW made a name for itself racing inline-six and turbocharged inline-four engines in the past, the S14 engine under the hood of the M3 is instead a naturally aspirated 2.3-liter “S14” inline-four. With a 16-valve, twin overhead cam head, the M3’s original output was around 200 hp.
FIA rules allowed updates to the model with lower production requirements. This car is one of those improved models, dubbed the Evolution II, and number 114 of 500 built to meet homologation requirements. Many of the upgrades BMW’s M division made were to the car’s S14 engine, which still displaces 2.3 liters but produces 220 hp thanks to increased compression, revised tuning, a better induction system, and a lighter flywheel. The white cam cover with the M division’s tri-color stripes—with “BMW M Power” jumping out at you—is a clear sign of an Evo II E30 M3.
Some little changes outside are apparent to those with deep M3 knowledge—a deeper chin spoiler, thinner glass, lighter bumpers, additional air ducts, and a new rear spoiler—but it still is quite clearly an E30 M3. The swollen fender flares, the unmistakable profile, the dogleg gearbox found on European M3s; all of these bits help cement the mystique of one of the rarer and more wonderful BMWs to ever hit the road.
There was a further evolution of the M3: The incredible Sport Evolution, which benefited from a bump in displacement to 2.5 liters and even more optimization. Such models are even rarer and more desirable. But while the Evo II is certainly valuable and collectible, it’s the sort of vehicle that would be a shame to park. This one has the light wear of a vehicle that’s seen regular use. It’s not beat up, but it has been exercised. In our minds, that’s the perfect happy middle ground. We hope the new owner uses this Evo II as its intended.
This one’s for sale in the U.K. through the auction site The Market, wearing an unusual and subtle color called “Macau Blue” over a light interior with plaid seat inserts. It has a rebuilt engine and a few needs—as always, if you’re interested, get a professional inspection since this car will be an investment for most people. The auction house thinks it could sell for just a hair under $90,000 at current exchange rates.
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